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Family Guy

Family Guy is an animated comedy about the dysfunctional Griffin family. Head of the house is lazy drunk Peter, married to Lois, with dim son Chris, unattractive daughter Meg, evil genius baby Stewie and talking dog Brian. FOX 1999-???


Episode 3 - Believe It Or Not, Joe's Walking On Air

29 March 2012

Synopsis: The guys wives come to the Clam and Peter decides to build a men’s club to get away from them. Joe begins to feel sorry that Bonny can’t live a normal life because of his handicap. He takes part in an experimental procedure and can walk again. But once he is active he realises that he doesn’t need his friends or his wife anymore. They decide to re-cripple him in order to get the old Joe back.

The Good: The conversations at the men’s club are fun. In the midst of typical Quagmire sex questions Peter asks why the ultimatum’s have to be about sex. He asks instead who would you rather start a small business with. It’s suitably silly and surreal as everyone begins to take the question seriously. I also laughed at Cleveland saying sincerely “thank you Peter” when Peter agreed to have sex with him in order to have sex with Angelina Jolie.

Some flashbacks are passable though that depends on how much you dislike Colin Farrell or find Family Guy’s generic maid joke funny.

Flashback ratio (good-medium-bad): 1-4-2

The Bad:  The plot is one of the oldest in television. A character encounters a life altering change which should make their life better. But during the story they realise that it adds new complications to life and they chose to put things back the way they were.

It’s not difficult to do this story competently. Joe becomes active again and realises he wants to be with a more energetic crowd. But instead of having Joe realise his change has brought about negative consequences for himself the others do it for him. They decide they don’t like the new Joe and try to re-cripple him. Just think about that statement. They decide to beat him up so badly that they physically disable him. Then his wife shoots him several times. Is there anyway to justify putting that on television. It’s not shocking as much as it is numbing. Seeing supposedly funny characters brutalise each other is a weird experience. It makes me dislike the show because there is nothing funny, positive or entertaining about it. It’s also worth pointing out that we have seen brutal violence many times before in Family Guy so this can hardly be seen as pushing the envelope.

Of course there is further evidence of how out of touch the writers have become with some very self referential scenes. We have Spider-Man return with his “everybody gets one” line (see 214). Then we have a conversation between the Doctor and Mr Pewterschmidt pointing out that they use the same voice for both. Why point out that you are a cheap cartoon? Is that meant to be hilarious? Similarly we see a surreal clip of Hitler which could have been funny until we revisit it and Peter tells the audience “see we had a plan for that all along.” Self referential humour works best when it is subtle or flippant. This humour just makes the writers look lazy. They can’t think of ways to be funny within the show so they turn to the audience and beg for a laugh by pointing out that the show is…well a show.

Best Joke: Jack Black as the “Unconventional Butler.” It’s a pretty dead on parody of Black’s typical movie role. He explains to his uptight boss that he doesn’t understand young people today. “You’re right; I’ll change from now on” he agrees. The End.

The Bottom Line: Is that the characters agree to paralyse another character for their own selfish reasons. Then they mock him for being paralysed. There is even a joke in this episode which mocks a character with Down Syndrome. It’s evidence of a writing team which is too lazy and incompetent to write good humour.



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